6/22/07 The Portal had been one of our favorite campsites and Moab is a beautiful little city so I took a picture of the setting as we left the valley to travel further south on UT-191 to the Canyonlands National Park. After a few pictures of some petriglyphs in the park we turned east on UT-491 and entered Colorado through Dove Creek and then restocked our larder at Wally World in Cortez. After rejecting some camping opportunities in Cortez we drove on CO-160 to Durango and then north on CO-550 to the Alpen Rose RV Park. After we were set-up and enjoying a transitional moment on our patio, Diesel seized an opportunity to engage a counterpart named Bruce.
In the morning drove into Silverton and strolled down Main Street gawking at how beautiful it looked in the perfect morning sunshine. Hearing the famous Durango-Silverton train chuggmg up the mountain we walked to the station to watch the train arrive.
After an al fresco lunch in Silverton at Natalia's with Diesel we returned to our trusty mountain steed for another even higher and wilder ride to Ouray. In Linda's defense, higher was over 11,000 ft. and wilder was narrow and somewhat broken and un-guard railed road edges only barely isolating us from an unfathomable free fall. Death would be inevitable, but much delayed by fall time so that you could replay your life several times over including some slo-mo and a few freeze frames. Even the signs indicating the road ahead are frightening in their attempts to provide a pictorial foretaste of what is to come. We thought that a grade prediction of 6% was pretty nasty in New Mexico but now we have had to develop a numbing acquaintance with twice that. Switchbacks with turns almost requiring a bending of our thirty foot spine were common in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, but CD-550 through the San Juan Mountains and across the Red Mountain Pass was like horrifyingly twisted gray linguini. Some of us love these things, but others do not.
6/24/07 We barely made it out of our campground north of Ouray because some of us in the traveling party had to sleep off the trauma of the previous day. We continued north on CO-550 to Montrose where we turned east on the famous US-50 and then north on CO-347 to the South Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The guidebook rap on this one is that it presents sheer walls of dark gray stone rising more than 2,600 feet above the river. Deeper than it is wide, this great slit in the earth is so narrow that sunlight penetrates to the bottom only at midday. All of that blackness and lack of lighting is my excuse for not being able to photograph it very well.
After leaving Black Canyon National Park we returned to US-50, passed through Gunnison and crossed the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass (11,312 ft). Although we had set a new trip altitude record, Linda was much comforted by the width of the highway and the wider, guardrail protected shoulders. Sensing this new-found comfort, I asked her to accompany me on a tram ride to a higher altitude but she declined and we traveled on down the mountainside to the town of Salida where we turned north again to a KOA campground just south of Buena Vista surrounded by five 14,000 ft. peaks.
6/25/07 Leaving Buena Vista in the morning we continued north on CO-24 through the San Isabel National Forest to Leadville and then followed CO-91 to Frisco and Dillon before turning north again on CO-9 to Kremmling and then east again on CO-34 to pass through Hot Sulfur Springs and Granby on our way into Rocky Mountain National Park and a thrilling ride across the mountains on Trail Ridge Road, the highest highway in the United States. To celebrate our arrival at the 12,000 ft. level we stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center where I seized the opportunity to climb a path up to a nearby peak of 12,300 ft. just so that I could look down on Diesel and Linda from far above them and so that I could find some foreground rocks to give some perspective on this mountaintop vastness. There were many little tundra flowers in bloom on the mountaintop and at another walking stop we saw a marmot scampering around and trying to figure out what the natures of people are. As evening approached, we harrowed down the east face of the Rockies to Estes Park and found our way to Mary's Lake Campground.
6/26/07 Diesel had one of his best mornings of the trip splashing along the shoreline of Mary's Lake and barking at his own echo from the cliffs. Then we continued east on CO-34 to Loveland and then north on 287 through Fort Collins and crossed into Wyoming. At Laramie we switched onto I-80 to increase the speed of our progress through boring countryside and then rejoined 287 at Rawlins to pass through Lamont, Muddy Gap, Jeffrey City, and Sweetwater Station until we could finally take refuge at the Sleeping Bear RV Campground in the surprisingly lovely town of Lander.
Images of Greece 1989